"Fuck you," Santana says around a puff of smoke. The effort it would take to slug Puck in the shoulder like she wants would cut through her high so she resolves to flick ash at him and sink deeper into the couch.

He's being obnoxious and practically begging for head. If she hadn't considered him her lesbro (which isn't completely accurate because a) he doesn't know she's gay and b) she still fucks him on occasion – though for the last month the few exchanges they've had have been by way of mouth) she'd probably kill him.

"C'mon, it's an even exchange," he says passing the blunt back to her. She takes a long pull of the minuscule remnants of bud and peach flavored paper between her finger tips and lets out a sigh with the exhalation of smoke. She drops the roach into the empty Heineken bottle nestled between her legs and does her best impression of completely ignoring him which she's pretty damn good at.

"You blow me. I go down on you. Win-win. We both know you like win-wins," he says and she can feel his smirk in the air even though she isn't looking at him.

"When it's a win-win for me," she starts, a huff of air following her words, "There's no joy in trying to first, find your penis and; second, hope you last longer than your allotted two minutes."

"Fuck you," he says but he's laughing and she's not. She's seriously not up for it. So she tells him that and pairs it with her first glance at him in the last fifteen minutes. His welcome is an eye roll.

"You sort of disgust me," she says shortly, shrugging her shoulders. Her hand moves to comb through her hair and she focuses her attention on the television again.

Her statement isn't completely true. Puck for the most part isn't half bad when he's not begging for favors, but since the last day of school she's been out of it. As much as she enjoys sex, Puck isn't her preferred partner – he isn't even her preferred sex which is a whole other battle.

She usually tries to pretend that he's Britt, but he grips her way too tight with his too rough hands and then there's the stubble and, fuck, it just never works.

If orgasms weren't high on her list of favorite things (right before boobs which was the tipping point to her realization that she's gay, gay, gay) she'd stop fucking him all together.

"You're being a bitch."

"Like that's new," she says with a semblance of finality. She reaches between them and tosses a Wii remote into his lap. "I'm not in the mood. So, just let me kick your ass and I'll be on my way. You can call the rhino or the hobbit – yeah, you're sort of obvious," she smirks when she hears his breath hitch in rebuttal, which is as close to nice as he's getting from her, "I'm sure one of them is willing."

"You've been acting fucking weird," he says but he starts the game any way. She kicks his ass twice before she gets lazy and really hungry.

She tosses the controller on the couch, stands up, stretches wide and plots her assault on his kitchen as she climbs the stairs. She makes herself a PB&J sandwich - she considers making one for Puck too but, fuck him, he can make his own - and heads back downstairs.

His eyes are red when they make contact and its clear that he's stoned, but his facial expression is hovering between concerned and pitying which makes her frown immediately. If one more person tries to have this conversation -

"Is this about, Britt?" He says furrowing his eyebrows. They knit together in reflection of an emotion she doesn't want from Puck. She's got enough going on without him being in her business and feeling sorry for her when he doesn't reallyunderstand.

"What?" She drops the balled up paper towel in her hand onto the worn coffee table and throws him a look that very clearly says, "Stop talking."

"You're all sad and shit," he says. "She's only been at that dance intens- whatever its called - for two weeks. I know you're like joined at the hip but grow a pair, Lo. It's like you're in lo-"

"Whoa," he says, "I thought you weren't - fuck..."

His eyes roll back immediately. She might not likesex with boys but she's damn sure good at it. Her nature dictates that she aim to be good at everything.

His hands are tangling in her hair and the whole time her head bobs in his lap she's thinking about how fucked up she is. She wishes the fingers were soft and stroking, nottugging and matched with ugly groans.

When she's finished, he tries to press her into the couch and pull down her shorts but she puts her hands to his chest and gets up. She runs a light hand through his Mohawk, twists her keys around her fingers and takes to the stairs with "Bye loser," and regret on her lips.

"I love you more than I've ever loved anyone else in this world. All I know about you and I is that because of that I think anything's possible."

"You're my best friend."

"Yeah. Me too."

Thirty six words.

Thirty six words from the last real conversation she had with Brittany keep her up most nights. She counted them instead of sheep two weeks ago when they were the only thing cycling through her thoughts. They make her head spin and her chest tight, because for as smart as she is she can't seem to decipher what they mean.

She's pinned down her own assumptions though:

She's relegated to the friend zone and no matter how much her heart aches, because of new found exposure and its subsequent run through the ringer, absolutely nothingseems possible.

She spends most of the night rolling in her covers half-high thinking of blue eyes and soft hands with an ache in her chest that seems too tight to survive.

Everything about this summer is outside of the norm.

Brittany's not connected to her at a hip, twined pinkie or well-placed thigh. There's no cheer camp because that's not part of her life. There's no Quinn because that's not part of her life either and the fact that she might actually miss it is outside the norm too.

On top of everything Dr. Arias and Denia Lopez, Esq. think she needs a summer job, which goes against everything this summer is supposed to stand for: her being a complete hermit and occasionally toking with Puck because she doesn't want to be fucking bothered.

San, I'm back.

She rereads the message four times before she drops her phone onto her mattress and her body follows.

Three words.

She's tired of counting and caring so she doesn't respond. Instead, she props her laptop on her chest and re-watches MTV shit that she has a love-hate relationship with until she finally falls asleep.

She hasn't done much of anything in three days.

(Aside from leaving the house for a few hours pretending to look for a job.)

Brittany's sent her a text every day since the initial one on Tuesday and she doesn't have a real reason not to respond other than thinking her heart might explode. She's surprised she hasn't just up and shown up at her house.

If this is what Brittany felt like the first time they - she halts the thought because that'll just make her feel shitty and she doesn't want to be the shitty person in this situation. She's the one with unrequited love on her side.

She picks her phone up and is so close to sending out I miss you that her heart jumps when the phone vibrates instead. She takes that as a sign, clears the message and opens the one from Puck.

Party at Berry's.

Her eyes roll automatically because she's still not over that sham of a kiss that cost them Nationals. She's tired of shit she actually cares about being ruined by shit she can't control.

(There's also the fact that Finn dumped Rachel a whopping two weeks into the summer making losing Nationals a complete waste.)

There's no way I'm going to that, she texts back.

Lo, c'mon. I'm bringing your favorite people. Jack and Jose.

I can't be held responsible for any physical harm I cause to Finndestructive or the Oompa Loompa.

He tells her it's a deal and requests that she come pick him up which she's sure is the only reason he told her about the party in the first place. She slides off her bed and heads for the shower. Forty minutes later she's dressed in light blue cut-offs and a racerback tank with extra wide armholes that make a bandeau top underneath necessary.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me, Puckerman," Santana says when they step into the Berry basement. Absolutely nothing about this screams party. Especially the part where six or so people are sitting on the floor and around the stage with a Taboo box between them.

"Noah! Santana! Welcome!" Rachel says smiling brightly and gesturing to a table of vegan snacks and the crowd of people scattered about. Santana bites her lip to keep from flipping out.

This definitely isn't a party and if she's taking in everything the right way it looks like the New Directions Taboo night Rachel's been pushing for since lastsummer.

"I brought booze," Puck says raising the handles in the air.

Rachel's face twitches a little like she wants to protest, but she's also glancing at the death stare Santana is shooting her way so she just shrugs, lets out a small mphand says, "I guess spirits can enhance the New Directions Taboo experience. However, I won't be partaking."

"The cups are over there, Noah," she adds before practically gliding away. He ignores it and tugs two shot glasses from the pocket of his denim jacket and smirks at Santana.

"I want you to know that I will never trust anything you say again," she starts.

"I'm sorry. She just really wanted everyone to be here and -"

"Save it." She snatches a shot glass from him, lets out a snort at the words on the bottom of the glass (If you can read this take another shot) and waits for him to uncap the handle of Cuervo. She makes him take three shots with her before she even considers taking a step toward the rest of the group.

Fifteen minutes later a large portion of New Directions is scattered over the floor, hanging off the stage, some straddling laps as they throw back shots, trade insults and harmonize random song lyrics.

They haven't started an official round of Taboo because they're still waiting for Quinn and Brittany to even out the teams. Rachel's made her best effort to keep them busy with Celebrity which is pretty much a game only being played between her and Kurt. And Kurt's chosen celebrity is Simon Cowell, which Santana's pretty sure is his way of excusing being a complete ass. She's sort of proud.

"I missed you," Santana hears after she feels. Blond hair dangles in front of her eyes, lithe arms come around her neck to squeeze and she feels a press of lips against the top of her head. She feels like she's blushing or something but she just blames it on the fact that she's half past tipsy.

"Hey," she mutters when Brittany takes a seat next to her, grabs her hand and starts playing with it in her lap. She wants to snatch it away, but she doesn't.

Rachel Berry is a damn lie.

And Santana's starting to believe there aren't any honest people in New Directions (Hello. Finn, Quinn … Santana) because "I won't be partaking" turned into Rachel 'What Shot Am I On? Can I Touch You?' Berry.

Rachel's concluded that tequila tastes like green and is fingering Puck's Mohawk like she's considering giving it a handjob and Santana would be amused if she wasn't so damn loud.

The entire predicament is sort of hilarious. A quick game of pre-Taboo Thumper has everyone on the brink of tomorrow's hangover and Santana's sitting next to a shirtless Puck in a hot pink bandeau, her tank strung across a chair. Mike, Brittany, Sam and Blaine are all topless too.

Somehow naming their teams resulted in Shirts vs. Skins and everyone's stomached enough liquor not to care.

(Quinn's on their team but she refuses to go shirtless because she's, well, Quinn.)

"The lady who sings that song Finn will sing when he finally scores again in like five years," Brittany says while plucking at the strap of a sunny yellow bra. Santana's eyes are covered by Puck's shades but she's still putting forth her best effort not to stare.

Mike slurs, "Madonna," as he does some odd spin move and everyone's laughing at Finn's expense for at least the fifth time this evening and then a off-kilter rendition of "Like A Virgin" starts up. Finn, of course, tries to clarify that he's nota virgin because he slept with Santana.

"Finncapable," Santana says over the top of Puck's sunglasses, "Never mention that fumble again."

The transition from game night to party is pretty smooth since nearly everyone is beyond tipsy. One too many arguments over Brittany's clues and Rachel's abuse of the buzzer prompts Mike to pull out his iPad and hook it up to the state-of-the-art sound system in the Berry basement.

It's more fun than Santana wants to admit. She will, however, admit that it's amusing. She actually can'tstop laughing and she's thankful she's not in tears like the last time she partied with Glee.

Tina and Mercedes are having a dance battle that mostly consists of them cracking up in between dance moves while Mike smirks at Tina like he's super in love. It should make Santana feel sick - normally it would - but, instead, she thinks it's just sort of really cute.

Puck claps a hand on her shoulder and puts a cup in her hand, "Here you go, Champ."

"I'm fine," she says easily, because she's a lot more drunk than she'd like to be and she has to drive home.

He just shrugs and downs the drink before pressing a kiss to her temple. She punches him in response because she always does when he tries to be sweet. He just grins and says she knows she likes it and makes his way over to Rachel, who is as handsy as ever. She doesn't even want to know what's up with that.

"San," she hears over the music. She looks up to find Brittany waving her over, still shirtless. Everyone else managed to redress in the midst of the transition, but Brittany hasn't. She's not at all surprised because she really does take that stripper drunk thing to heart. If they were at any other party Santana would make her put on her top because hungry football players usually get way too excited. It's glee though, and Brittany thinks they're family so Santana lets it alone.

"Are you gonna keep staring or are you gonna come dance?" Brittany quirks her eyebrows playfully and Santana can't really see the harm in dancing. She's been doing her best impression of a streetball player and maintaining at least three feet of distance all night, which, really, is silly. She nods and gets up from the couch to dance to whatever Ke$ha song is playing but she keeps her distance.

They dance for a while and it's lighthearted and carefree and Santana feels silly for ever being apprehensive. Dancing with Brittany is always fun and she's always awed at her command of her body. She's doing a really good job of keeping that awe in thoughts of the dancefloor and outside of the bedroom until Mike plays something a little slower by Miguel.

She's almost positive she could control her thoughts if Brittany kept her distance but before she knows it there are hands on her hips and a smile against her neck. It feels nice, so nice, but the thudding in her chest has nothing to do with hormones and everything to do with anxiety.

"You have to get off me," she says her hands covering Brittany's in an attempt to move them. Her throat is dry and she can't stop scanning the room to see who's watching; Brittany won't budge and it still feels nice in one place but hurts elsewhere. "Seriously. Stop."

Brittany lifts her head and Santana's met with sad eyes that she really can't deal with, "I don't get it."

"Just fucking stop, okay?" She hisses and finally the effort she's put toward moving the hands that seem to belong on her waist works. She shoves them down and away and they drive against Brittany's own thighs. She doesn't even chance looking at her as she storms away, because everything hurts and her eyes sting.

"That look of misery seems familiar, Santana," Kurt says. She wants to slug him because she's pretty sure of what he's insinuating, but she just frowns because she doesn't need this right now.

"Fuck off, Hummel," she manages through the tightness of her lungs. She picks up a shot glass and tops it with Jack before escaping to the backyard, chest tight, lungs burning and eyes stinging.

"You're an idiot," Quinn says in place of a greeting and Santana's drunk and angry and really wondering what exactly a heart attack feels like because she might be in the middle of one, but she's still Santana. So.

"You're a bitch," she quips and then her hand moves to her chest to squeeze at the spot where her heart is thumping rapidly.

"We're even then." Quinn takes a seat beside her and looks like she can't decide how close she wants to actually be. She finally relaxes into a space about six inches away and Santana just scoffs.

"It's not contagious."

"What? I- Santana, seriously, get over yourself," Quinn hisses. It's not her usual acid and Santana looks up and realizes that Quinn's actually offended. "Believe me, if I cared about catching something from you we would've stopped being friends a long time ago."

She wants to say when did we start, but she's either dying or being tortured and she needs someone to be here if she actually stops breathing.

Santana stays quiet and rubs at the trigger, her heart. She takes in measured breaths because her lungs are still tight but the summer air is refreshing and Quinn's palm is flat against her back rubbing tiny circles that are surprisingly soothing.

She looks at her with curious eyes. They don't dothis, but Quinn's here and it feels like the hotel in New York again. She remembers how light she felt huddled together with them - the best friends she's not sure she wants to have. She doesn't fight it or jerk away because it really is helping.

"I know you're scared," Quinn starts but Santana isn'tready for that.

"I don't want to talk about it," she manages. She rubs circles against her temples with her left hand and squeezes her knee with the right one. It's always been her reaction to anxiety, if she can calm down enough to remember it helps. She's usually okay to handle the panic on her own.

Quinn doesn't say anything more. They sit in silence staring into darkness with Quinn's hand stilled against her back; slow circles no longer necessary.

"I just need to not be around her," Santana says after a while.

"I don't think that's the case at all."

Regardless of what Santana thinks she needs, she's not getting it tonight because when her and Quinn finally step back inside Mike is dancing over frowning.

"I was looking for you," he slurs with a grin that turns into a grimace, "Brittany's sick."

Santana finds Brittany hovering over the porcelain throne in Rachel's bathroom, Finn awkwardly patting at her back. She sighs and taps his shoulder.

"I got it." He doesn't protest because of the ice in her eyes and she shuts the door behind him.

"You'll feel better when it's all out," she says softly, one hand winds soft hair into her palm and the other finds a rhythm against her back. Brittany nods and she wanders if she's sick from drinking or being upset.

Even when she's finished emptying her stomach her eyes are low and her hands clammy. Santana sits her on the edge of the tub and runs a damp paper towel over her face.

"Did you drive?" Brittany nods. "You're gonna have to leave your car here. I'll bring you back to
get it in the morning."

Brittany doesn't say anything, just shuts her eyes and reaches for Santana's hand. She takes it in her own and helps her up. Brittany immediately eases into her side and Santana wraps an arm around her waist. Her lips hover awkwardly over Brittany's temple before she presses them down. She's almost positive she can feel Brittany relax.

Puck groans about not being ready to go and Santana considers punching him in the middle of Rachel's stage. Instead, she rolls her eyes and tells him good luck finding a ride home. She turns her back on him before he can respond and goes back to where Brittany's on the couch with her head resting the crook of the arm. Artie's rolling over and she wonders how many people she'll want to hit before the night is over.

Before she puts any serious thought into it Quinn is in her path.

"Tina's going to give me and Mercedes a lift, so you go ahead now." Santana just nods and tries to contort her face into appreciation but it settles somewhere between a smile and a grimace. Quinn just pats her shoulder like she gets it and says something to Artie that has him rolling away from Britt. He casts a downward glance at Santana, but she ignores it and lifts Brittany off the couch and out to her car.

"I'll call your mom," she says for no reason because Brittany's eyes are shut and her head is pressed against the passenger seat window.

She practically carries Brittany to her room because she's way out of it and still pretty drunk. She clings to Santana with the little bit of energy she has left and only lets go when Santana drops her softy onto the bed. Brittany lets out a murmur that she can't quite understand but she shrugs instead of asking her to repeat it.

She realizes they haven't shared a bed in nearly two months and weariness almost makes her retreat to the couch. She shakes off the thought because it's silly and returns her attention to Britt who twitches lightly. She knows she'll wake up sweating if she doesn't undress her but it doesn't make it any less awkward to tuck Brittany into the sheets in only her shirt and panties.

Santana wakes up to giggling and sees Brittany perched at the edge of her bed, three Capri Suns in her lap. Anyone else would take it as a sign of generosity, but Santana knows she's going to drink all three. She can never drink just one.

"Hi Sleepyhead," Brittany coos when she realizes Santana is awake. Before Santana can stop her she's kissing her, but its quick and sweet like the ones she presses to her cheeks so she just lets out a sigh and licks her bottom lip. "Perry's about to be on," Brittany says smiling.

"Yeah?" Santana asks, not being able to suppress a grin because even chest tightening gay panic can't keep her from enjoying Phineas and Ferb.

"Mhm," Brittany says grinning and sidling back up the bed to take residence at Santana's side. She nuzzles into her and drops her head to her chest.

"Your heart's beating really fast," she says, "I don't want to have to get you a card too. Calm it down, okay?"

Santana shakes her head and makes herself as comfortable as possible, which isn't very comfortable at all for the first ten minutes, but soon she's enthralled in the comedy of Doofensmirtz and all his failed plans. With Brittany giggling into her t-shirt and holding a Capri Sun to her lips to share worrying doesn't seem to be at the top of the list of her priorities anymore.

There's a fleeting moment where she thinks that if anyone knew she actually enjoyed at least three shows on the Disney channel and sometimes slept in a Perry the Platypus shirt Brittany got her, she'd never be able to live it down.

But then she thinks there are worse things to deal with and lets the moment pass, because Brittany's fingers are tickling her side as she says, "I'm telling mom," at the same time as Candace Flynn and she can't help but relax, because this is BrittanyandSantana in friendship. Nothing more, nothing less and if Glee club is the best part of her day, this is the best part of her everything.

Three hours and several rounds of MJ Experience later - which included Brittany dancing unabashedly in her underwear and Santana actually being able to keep her hands and mouth to herself (something she hasn't been able to do since they were thirteen) - the two of them lay curled up in her covers. Brittany's fallen asleep again. She has the uncanny ability to avoid the actual pain of hangovers but she wakes early and then crashes every morning after.

Santana can't sleep because there's a warm thigh separating her own and a hand gripping her t-shirt like she might run away. There's nothing to distract her from the fact that laying like this with Brittany clutching her like she needs her feels distinctly different from BrittanyandSantana in friendship and more like BrittanyandSantana in a relationship.

She likes them both, but she's afraid of choosing one and losing the other and then thirty six words are rolling through her thoughts like a cyclone and her cheeks are wet and she's really tired of that burning sensation.

She doesn't know what anything means anymore but she's too afraid to ask.